Sunday, February 01, 2009

There's some great posts here (scroll down to Wednesday 28th and Tuesday 27th) from Diamond Geezer about the new tube maps that Transport for London seem to be prolifically churning out at the moment, including in this case ones focusing on disabled facilities and the presence of public toilets at Underground stations.
I had to laugh at this quote that DG provides from the map on disabled facilities, involving a journey from Sudbury Town (wherever that is) to Borough station, which sounds like something only Beezlebub could envisage:

» Enter Sudbury Town (via the Station Approach entrance, not Orchard Gate)
» Take the Piccadilly line (big step up, medium gap) to Green Park (big step down)
» Via lifts and along a 220m passage to get on Jubilee line (big step up) to London Bridge (small step down)
» Via lifts and via street (410m in total) to get on Northern line (level access)
» Ride southbound through Borough station to Clapham North (big step down) and cross the platform (big step up)
» Return northbound to Borough (big step down) and exit via lift to street

I feel tired just reading that. What I’d like to add to DG’s post, other than agreeing that this seems mindbogglingly complicated, is that this involves taking four trains on three different Underground lines - and hoping that they all work. Given the chaotic nature of the London Underground, would it be cynical of me to comment that this is slightly wishful thinking on TfL’s part? Not judging from the daily update on Underground lines that’s blasted at us commuters over the tannoy at the station near my work when we ascend the escalators, in which there is almost always at least one direction on at least one line a day which is at least partially closed for repairs – and don't even think about what it's like at weekends. Taking the Underground can so often be a game of roulette.
In a fantasy world, where TfL was theoretically awarded with unlimited amounts of money, the only answer to truly making the London Underground blemish-free would be to build new tunnels for each line – admittedly, a colossal task – with 21st century signals and new trains. The old tunnels could then be used for cyclists only, which would theoretically be a benefit to transport on the surface.
Sadly, this suggestion isn’t actually uniquely thought up by Goodnight London, but rather by some bloke in a letter to The Independent that I read a while ago. But what a great idea it is. Of course, the idea contains logistical nightmares, and runs into a fair few problems when we consider that some of these lines actually do go Overground for part of their journey, as in the case of the Jubilee line heading westward. Maybe in these cases the new tunnel could join up with the remnants of the track from the old tunnel just before surfacing. The old track would have been kept only in those cases where it goes Overground, with cyclists in the tunnel being blocked by a wall at this point. Then, if the track eventually goes Underground again, the old track could then feed into the new tunnel, after which the old tunnel could then once again be used only for cyclists. Still following?
Obviously, the idea runs into the other problem, which is that it would cost trillions of pounds, and would be laughed down straight away. So instead, despite TfL’s best efforts with continual repairs, we’re stuck with a chronically exhausted network that’s constantly weakened by signal failures and the such-like – and which, of course, is the most expensive in the world to use.
Oh well, I can but dream...

1 comment:

tuppence said...

I can't agree more with what sexy said.

DG's post about exit signs and new CCTV camera blocking 'next train' indicators interested me too.

Since I read it everywhere I go, I find I'm crouching down to see the text on the indicator boards. It's even worse than he writes. Did the installation engineers not think?